Sunday, December 29, 2002

The Test Of Greatness

The Test Of Greatness


Today is Family Sunday & this morning we will learn that:

What we do with what we have determines what we get

Let me tell you a story about Isaac and his test of greatness.


Isaac was the son of Abraham and Sarah

When he was a little boy God gave his father, Abraham, a great test to prove Abraham’s loyalty and commitment. (Genesis 22:1)

When Isaac was 40 years old he got married (Genesis 25:20)

He and his wife, Rebecca, had twin sons named Esau & Jacob

Isaac lived to be 180 years old and had many, many grandchildren (Genesis 35:28)

One day when Isaac was near 80 years old, he was living in the land of Canaan, the land God had promised to give him & his children after him, there was a famine in the land.

It looked as if Isaac only had one choice if he wanted to provide food for his family.

He would have to leave the promised land and move down into Egypt.

Sometimes the promised land is not what was promised yet!

His father was faced with the same choice before Isaac was ever born (Genesis 12:10)

Isaac decided to do something different

To sow his seeds in the land of famine


Because he believed it was what God wanted him to do.

Did Isaac make the right choice?

Let’s Read Genesis 26:1-5 & 12-13

1 ¶ And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.

2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;

4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

12 ¶ Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.

13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

God gives some people

Great power


Great wealth

Great opportunity

Great talent

Great wisdom

Great beauty

Great knowledge

Great forgiveness

Great tasks

Great families

Great second chances

Among other things, Isaac was given a great opportunity.

At times we find ourselves in the middle of something God is doing and He chooses us to help Him get it done.

What we do with what we have determines what we get

Isaac gained great wealth & power as a result

The test of life is what we do with what God has given us

When we pass the test … we are demonstrating that:

We have given our greatest for God’s glory

We fail the test of life when we choose to use our greatest God given gifts selfishly and wastefully

What can we do if we fail the test of greatness

Ask God For Forgiveness;

God always gives everyone two great gifts:

Great Forgiveness

Great Second Chances

God will forgive you and give you a second or third or fourth chance to demonstrate your loyalty and commitment to Him and His purpose for your life.

What we do with what we have determines what we get!

Isaac, like his father Abraham, used his greatest gift for God’s glory.

Let’s all pray that we will use our greatest gifts for God’s purposes and not just for our own benefit.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story


Now the angel Gabriel is perhaps the highest ranking messenger of God. It was he who was sent to Daniel to explain the vision Daniel had seen, (Daniel 8:16), and then again to reveal the end times prophecy of the seventy weeks. (Daniel 9:21-27) Perhaps it was Gabriel who wrestled with the prince of the power of the air over Persia, (Daniel 10:13), and called for the arch angel, Michael, who assisted in the heavenly fight. Over 400 years later, Gabriel visited a Levite Priest, Zacharias, and his wife, Elizabeth, to inform them they would have a son in their old and barren years. (Luke 1) This son would be named John and he would be the prophet sent in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah.

Gabriel introduced himself to Zacharias as the ‘Champion of God’ who stands in the presence of God. (Luke 1:19) Six months later Gabriel is sent by God to the city of Nazareth in the Galilee region of Israel, a land filled with trees, hills, valleys and meadows, fertile soil in which crops abound. Gabriel is sent specifically to visit with a young Jewish girl named Mary. (Luke 1:26) Here Gabriel delivers his message while all of heaven and eternity await this young girl’s response.

Mary is growing up and, no doubt very pretty. She is engaged to marry a man in town who is working to become a carpenter. (Mark 6:3) His name is Joseph. Much of the town is aware of their engagement and soon coming marriage. Joseph is a proper man who cares deeply for Mary. (Matthew 1:19) He is an upstanding member of the community, a religious man and is well liked by his friends.

On this particular day Gabriel comes in unto Mary and salutes her with an uncommon greeting. “Hail, You are highly favored, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.” As she wonders what this could mean, Gabriel continues, “Do not be afraid, You have found favor with God. Listen to me. You are going to conceive a child and bring birth to a Son and you will name Him Jesus. He is going to be great and He will be called the Son of The Most High God, and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and concerning His kingdom, there shall never be an end to it.” (Luke 2:26-33)

Mary, in her honest reply, said, “How could this happen? You see, I have never been with a man.” Gabriel responded, “The Holy Spirit of God will anoint you and His power shall overwhelm you and through this miracle you will conceive and bring birth to The Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35)

In order to give Mary confidence and substance for faith, Gabriel told her that six months earlier her cousin, Elizabeth, had also conceived in her old age and that she was pregnant with a child at this moment. He told Mary that even though Elizabeth had been barren, With God, nothing is impossible. (Luke 1:36-37)

At this, faith must have arisen in Mary’s heart, or perhaps her gentle and trusting nature gave the answer all of heaven was waiting for. She said, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word.” At this Gabriel had completed his mission and left her. (Luke 1:38)

Immediately following this encounter, Mary decided to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. She left for the hill country in a hurry to see them and went to the city of Juda. When Mary arrived and greeted Elizabeth, the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy with a loud voice. She said to Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why am I so honored to have the mother of my Lord come to visit me? Blessed are you Mary for believing and now all that God has told to you shall be performed.” (Luke 1:41-45) Mary magnified the Lord and lifted her voice to proclaim God’s majesty and wisdom. (Luke 1:46ff)

After three months Mary returned to her home in Nazareth. (Luke 1:56) It soon became evident to those in her city, that Mary was pregnant and without a husband. Many were filled with hurt, disappointment and even anger. When Joseph was told he decided not to make a public example of Mary, but to end the engagement privately to save any further hurt and pain. (Matthew 1:19) On a night before he could arrange this, Joseph was visited by an angel and told not to fear, but to take Mary as his wife. The angel explained all that had happened and what was to take place. Joseph, being a just man, put away his own concerns and followed the angel’s instructions. (Matthew 1:20-24)

About the time when Mary was to bring birth to her firstborn Son, it became mandatory that all the Jews had to return to the city of their family’s heritage and there be counted in the census for tax purposes. (Luke 2) The Roman government was strictly enforcing this rule and so Mary and Joseph left Nazareth and traveled near 100 miles south to Bethlehem. While they were in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor and brought forth her Son and wrapped him up in linen cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

Out in the fields surrounding Bethlehem, there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night. The angel of the Lord came to the shepherds and the glory of God shined like a light all around them and they were very afraid. The angel said, “Fear not! I bring you glad tidings and great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this night in the city of David, in the town of Bethlehem, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. This shall be a sign to you, you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)

All of a sudden there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men.” (Luke 2:14)

When the angels departed the shepherds hurried into the town to see what they had been told. They came and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, just as the angels had said. The shepherds left there glorifying and praising God and telling everyone all that they had been told and seen. (Luke 2:15-20) After a few days it came time to name the child, they called his name Jesus, just as Gabriel had told Mary to do nine months earlier. (Luke 2:21) This Jesus is the Son of God, Christ the Anointed Messiah, Savior, Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God Incarnate and Soon Coming Ruler of all that is. (Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 17:14)

Now Let’s Read Beginning With Luke 2:1

Luke 2

1 ¶ And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 ¶ And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

21 ¶ And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

As We Close This Service, There Are Three Things I Would Like For You To Do

Complete these sentences:

#1. “Christmas is a time when we should ________.

#2. If God would give me one gift this year, it would be ________.

#3. If I could give God one gift this Christmas, I would like to give Him ________.

Now I challenge you to make the most of this Christmas season:

Receive God’s best gift for you and give Him your best in return.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Stories Of The Bible

Stories Of The Bible


The Father Of Many Nations

I. Genesis 17

1 ¶ And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

4 ¶ As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

A. God Is A Covenant God

1. Contract: My good at your expense.

2. Covenant: Your good at my expense.

* 1 Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

* Psalms 89:34 My covenant will I not break

* Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

* the ark of the covenant of God

* Hebrews 10:16 this is the covenant that I will make with them in those days -- We become the ark of the covenant of God

B. Abram Respected God

C. The Unilateral Covenant of God

1. Bi-lateral Covenant -- I will if you will -- We will

2. Unilateral Covenant -- As For Me …

* Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

F. God promised to make Abram the father of many nations

II. Abraham - A Father Of Many Nations

A. Have I Made Thee!

1. Already -- Past Tense

2. Hebrews 4

17 ¶ (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

B. Nations and Kings shall come from thee

III. The Sons of Abraham (How Abraham Became The Father of Many Nations)

A. The Story of Ishmael

Genesis 16:15 Hagar bears Ishmael to Abram

Abram is 86 years old

Ishmael becomes the father of

Circumcised at age 13 with Abram who was 99

Sent away with his mother to the desert of Paran

Became an archer and desert chief

Ishmael married an Egyptian woman

12 Princes were his sons

Founders of many Arab tribes

Inhabited desert places of Northern Arabia

Gen 16:12 a wild man whose hand is against every man …

Ishmael was about 90 when Abraham died

Ishmael and Isaac buried Abraham in Hebron

Ishmael died at 137 years old

B. The Story of Isaac

Genesis 17

15 ¶ And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

C. The Other Sons of Abraham

Ishmael - God will hear - Hagar - Flight

Isaac - he laughs - Sarai (Sarah) - Princess (noble woman)

(Genesis 25)

Zimran - musician - Keturah - incense

Jokshan - snarer - Keturah

Medan - contention - Keturah

Midian - strife - Keturah

Ishbak - he releases - Keturah

Shuah - wealth - Keturah

D. God made Abraham the father of many nations, kings and princes came from him, but all that Abraham had and the covenant of God passed to his son Isaac, the son of his promise.

IV. Lessons From The Bible

* Covenant can procure what contract cannot secure.

* Do not let impatience become your God.

* It’s not who gets there first that counts.

* What you do while you are waiting on God can determine how long you wait.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Stories Of The Bible

Stories Of The Bible


Genesis 12 -- God Speaks To Abram

Between 2100 and 2000 BC

Abram is 75 years old

I. Gen 12:1-5 God Speaks To Abram

1 ¶ Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4 ¶ So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

A. The Instructions

1. Get out of your country

2. Get away from your relatives

3. Get out of your father’s house

4. Go to a place I will show you

B. The Promise

1. I will make you a great nation

2. I will bless you

3. I will make your name great

4. I will make you a blessing

5. I will bless them that bless you

6. I will curse them that curses you

7. In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed

C. Abram’s Response

1. Abram left the country

2. Abram left his father’s house

3. Abram took his relative, Lot, his nephew, with him

4. Abram went into the land of Canaan

D. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran

II. Abram and Lot Were Different

A. Abram was an altar man

1. Gen 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

2. Gen 12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

3. Gen 13:4 When Abram left Egypt he returned to Bethel: Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

4. Abram was an altar man

B. Lot was a tent man

1. The bible never mentions Lot building or worshipping or attending an altar.

2. Gen 13:5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

C. After Abram and Lot Separated

1. Gen 13:12 Lot, “… pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

2. Gen 13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

D. When Lot was taken captive, Abram Recovered Him

1. Lot returned to Sodom without mention of thanksgiving to God

2. Abram passed all of the recovered goods by the altar of God:

* Abram met Melchizedek, the priest of God

* Abram refused to keep anything for himself

* Abram declared that God alone would make him rich

* Gen 14:20 And (Melchizedek said to Abram) blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he, (Abram), gave him tithes of all.

III. Abram Is Forced To Fully Obey God

A. Genesis 13:14-18

14 ¶ And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

B. God’s Plan

1. Bless them both so much that the land cannot contain them

2. Let them decide to separate in peace, not strife

* 2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

C. Genesis 12 was not the first time God had spoken to Abram and gave him instructions to follow:

1. Acts 7:

2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,

3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.

4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.

2. Before Abram lived in Haran, NT Charran:

* He lived in Ur of the Chaldees

* God spoke to him to leave relatives behind but instead he moved to Haran with his father, brother and brother’s family.

* Abram’s father, Terah, and his family were evidently a hinderance to God’s plan in Abram’s life

* Terah means ‘delay’

* When Abram left Haran, he took his nephew Lot who continued to delay God’s blessing on Abram

IV. Remember The Lessons On Miracles

* God demands we participate in our miracles

* What It Takes To Work With God

> Depend On God and Not The Arm Of Man

> Offer What You Have To God For His Touch

> Obediently Follow the Prescribed Course of Action

Use The Miracle Blessings and Benefits For Their Intended Use

Until Abram fully follows the course of action prescribed by God, he continues to wander and wonder without obtaining the promise.

* After having received commandment from the Lord:

* Abram followed his family to Haran, taking delay with him

* Next he took his nephew Lot with him

* Then he did not stay where God would bless him but went to Egypt in the face of a famine and ended up a liar and almost lost his wife Sarah

* Next he is delayed again by having to rescue Lot and his family

* Then he will follow Sarah’s counsel and take her handmaid and birth a work of the flesh, Ishmael.

* The dealings with Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael will continue to delay Abram for years.

* Not until he is 100 years old, 25 years after he had left Haran, does Abraham receive the son of his promise.

> Why did God put up with Abram and his ways:

* God is very patient, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy

* Abraham also was a patient man, merciful and caring

* God is a God of covenant

> bilateral covenants &

> unilateral covenants

^ Hebrews 6 … He swore by Himself …

* Abram was an altar man

In order to receive our promised miracles we must follow Abraham:

* Have faith & be patient

* Be faithful & fully obey God

* Continue to pass our lives and goods by the altar of God

Heb 6

12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.